Stories

Flash Fiction: Glass

It’s been a long time since I’ve written fiction. Life’s been getting in the way–you know how it is–and I’ve been doing a lot of other types of writing (blogging, articles) and lots of editing, so getting back in the saddle has been a little tough. But today, something happened at my day job that inspired this little piece of flash fiction. And so was born this rendering of a young girl’s point of view on family violence in…

 

Glass

The shouting echoes inside my chest; it rings inside empty space. But I am not empty. Inside lives a cold, shivering ache.

From my safe place under the bed, I watch as strangers throw dishes, glasses, books, and the TV remote to the floor. They scream. They threaten. They are oblivious. They are blind. They have become monsters who do not see chaos and destruction; they do not care about the shattered glass and plastic pieces strewn across the hardwood floor.

I used to know those people. Their once familiar faces are now feral, twisted. One used to read me stories at night and chase away the ghosts I swore were hiding in my closet. And the other used to leave me love notes on pink paper in my lunch box. The other kids teased me because of those notes and, to save face, I would make a snide comment, crumple them up and toss them in the trash. But secretly…deep down in the black hole in my chest…I needed what those frilly notes contained; I needed a splash of color to soothe the ache.

That usually ended once I arrived home. I eventually learned that pink splash was like whitewash; it only masked our family secrets, only candy-coated my pain.

The front door closes. It’s suddenly very quiet.

I know what’s coming. The cycle, once begun, must play itself out.

Glass crunches underfoot. Perfectly manicured toenails encased in pink slippers appear outside my hiding spot. She sniffles, then blows her nose. By the time she bends down, her face will once again be one I recognize and love with all my heart.

“Jessy? Come on out,” she adds when I don’t move. ‘It’s okay now. You know how it gets around here sometimes. But it’s all good now. I—”

“Promise,” I finish, whispering to myself.

My mother finally gets down on hands and knees to reach under the bed.

I watch the manicured hand creep towards me.

The same hand that had thrown down our family pictures, leaving shattered glass, shining like clear spikes, on the floor.  

 

349 words

(c) 2019 Dyane Forde

Book Review

Book Review: Sinful Folk

Sinful FolkSinful Folk by Ned Hayes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blurb : 

A terrible loss. A desperate journey.
A mother seeks the truth.

In December of the year 1377, five children were burned to death in a suspicious house fire. A small band of villagers traveled 200 miles across England in midwinter to demand justice for their children’s deaths.

Sinful Folk is the story of this treacherous journey as seen by Mear, a former nun who has lived for a decade disguised as a mute man, raising her son quietly in this isolated village.

For years, she has concealed herself and all her secrets. But in this journey, she will find the strength to claim the promise of her past and find a new future. Mear begins her journey in terror and heartache, and ends in triumph and redemption.

My Review:

I jumped at the chance to review Sinful Folk. I was already following Ned Hayes on tumblr, drawn to his posts by the quality of his writing, so asking for a review copy was a no-brainer.

What I liked most about the book was the writing itself. The language seemed appropriate to the era, and there is a smooth, lilting flow to it that is easy and pleasing to read. Hayes also has the ability to coax spectacular, vivid images in the mind of a reader. I often wondered if he painted, or wrote poetry, because his writing is that precise and beautiful.

Some characters and scenes stood out: those where Miriam (main character) shares her story about Edward, her lover, are the most touching and believable of all. I note this, as there were moments in the story I felt to be melodramatic, or where certain characters (of the traveling band) bordered on caricature, so the scenes with Miriam and Edward were a welcome change.

I also appreciate that Hayes did his research. I believed the awful descriptions of that era, which often left me feeling angry at the conditions of life, the bigotry, and the overall ignorance of the times. The context certainly added to the horror that the band of travelers endured.

There were some elements I had difficulty with. For example, just when Miriam (Mear) is about to learn valuable information about what happened to the dead boys, someone would interrupt the conversation, or the voices dipped so low she could no longer hear. This happened a few too many times, which left me frustrated. Also, the first 100 pages or so felt long. Despite opening with a devastating fire, the narrative’s passive tone (which runs throughout) made it hard to get into and dulled the fire’s impact. Another issue was the characters themselves: for some of the men, their personalities weren’t always distinct enough for me to keep them straight, even towards the end of the book. Lastly, Mear is a mute and so much narrative takes place in her mind thinking, revisiting past events, and questioning current events. Though well-told, there were moments I wished those passages might have been shortened, or for something to happen to shake things up.

The pace of the last half of the book moves well. There is more action, danger lurks almost everywhere at once, and when the end came at last, I closed the book feeling emotional yet satisfied. Sinful Folk is a beautiful, mature story, and I encourage readers to pick it up.

 

Stories

View From the Sea: Story Prompt

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything new, so I decided to jump back on board with a story prompt from a writing site; it’s a little experimental but that’s part of the fun. I’ll leave the actual prompt undisclosed; if you read, read for fun and see what the story says to you. 🙂

View from the Open Sea

Our dreams are but crystal drops falling from eyes tearing with joy or sorrow; their pings can be heard for miles around; their echoes bounce back to bless or to haunt. One droplet, the best droplet, shone as a white flare for a moment in time; smiles frozen on celluloid; romantic poses pasted into a sticky album and boxed away for latter days…It was just a tiny, liquid drop of youthful expectation collected in a bucket yet it promised the biggest prize. Of all those constrained in my little sea, on that cornerstone I fashioned my house knowing that, one day, I could look back and see it still shining like a beacon amongst the millions of other drops that had since collected.

I am older now. Yet, not so old; I sneak a look back now. My eyes are aflame with the whiteness of silk and chiffon, skin brushed by lace so carefully chosen; it had meant so much to me, then. There was a waltz when I floated in arms so strong—a man in penguin white and black, and me nestled in expensive soufflé. The songs of strings and woodwinds carried us to the heavens; elevated us beyond the mountain-tops until we touched the essence the clouds. But, as with all aspirations too golden, too pure, we soared too high–nearly kissed the sun. And wax melts. It becomes slippery, elusive, trickling through trembling fingers until we can only fumble with the broken pieces of our once brilliant wings and, like ash, our blackened bodies fall, careening side by side to predetermined doom.

Time…It flies.

I am adrift in a tiny raft, staring at the bucket’s broken walls. They lied. Once, they had promised shelter, encircling this unsteady pool like a womb. But I have learned that walls, no matter how high or how thick, are destined to come down and that its stones crush those below who foolishly staked their peace in them…

The empty space beside me has long grown cold; the invisible imprint remains. Occasionally, a new form lies in its place. Different, it is cut from another cloth and yet I find it fits, perfectly. Will I be damned for tearing down the walls of my cage with my own two hands? Or will the light of that elusive sun at last touch this sallow face?

I will drift.

And I will wonder.

I will drift again.

And I will wonder some more.

But right now, as I bounce upon the lilting waters, the whole world appears as a limitless sea…

Copyright @2014 Dyane Forde

 

 

Stories

‘Frenzy’: New Story Experiment

So here’s a story I wrote a about six weeks ago. It’s sort of a mix of prose with elements of poetry, as I wanted to see if I could weave the two together into a cohesive piece. It was inspired from a visual prompt of an eerie scene of a body of water, rocks and a tree. About 1000 words. Hope y’all enjoy it. 🙂

Frenzy

Hooks. Harpoons. Bullets.

Scorching pain tore through her body. Rivulets of mystical blood mingled in the cold, wet murk.

The red-clouded water stuck in her gills. Metallic-tasting, it washed over her tongue. If she could smell it, it’d reek like rust. 

Beside her, his beautiful, silver-hued body, now hopelessly marred, floated facedown. Dull blue eyes stared into the void below, while brown locks waved at her amidst the bubbles kicked up by a shower of bullets and grasping hooks. The strands spread around the restful face, silken threads all around.

He was gone.
Rage dulled the pain eating its way through her flesh…

That night marked the beginning of her thirst.
Her desire to feed, inflamed.

Vengeance.

She dreamed of it every night.

***

‘Can you stop throwing rocks?’ Ham avoided Pete’s gaze, focusing instead on popping open a can of beer.

Pete snorted. He glanced at his friend, picked up another stone and threw it into the waves that lapped at their island of clustered rocks. ‘The ocean’s full of them. What do you think we’re sitting on?’

Ham shook his head. ‘These rocks have always been here. They belong. What you’re doing…what if you disturb something?’

Pete threw his head back to laugh, causing his shiny black hair to dance in the full moon’s light. ‘What? Are you afraid of sea monsters now? Is a Boogey man from the Salty Deep going to attack me cuz of this?’ He tossed another rock into the waves before leaning back on his elbows. ‘Man, you have to stop reading those fantasy books. They’re messing with your brain.’

‘How can you deny the strange singing we heard? How do you explain us ending up here?’

‘You’re saying we were drawn here? By singing?’

Ham stared down at the boulder, absently swirling around the dregs of beer. ‘Remember last month? What we did?’

‘Shut up!’ Suddenly sober, Pete sat bolt upright. ‘Don’t talk about that!’

‘But, Pete! We did something terr–‘

Pete grabbed Ham by the shirt. ‘I said shut up! No one can ever know. You got that? Besides, there were no witnesses. If we keep quiet, it’ll blow over. When the body washes up, they’ll think it’s just another hobo.’

Letting his friend go, Pete sat in moody silence beside him and stared at the restless water below. He hurled his beer can into the waves. It hit with a slap.

***

My prince, my love. Butchered by animals. With a fine, bone comb, she dressed her silver hair while listening to the muted sounds of the ocean. She sat, passively tending her gnarled features while awaiting the moment designated by Triton himself.

‘You will have your revenge, daughter,’ he’d promised.

She had been patient, but time was passing. The chasm of bitterness inside her was growing. Her vengeance must be sated. It must feed, or she would die.

Unusual sounds trickled towards her through the current. Unusual, yet familiar.

Trembling, she set down the comb. Triton had delivered.

***

‘For the last time! We didn’t kill a mermaid—or merman—or whatever! There’s no such thing!’

Beer had made Ham bold. The two argued while standing on the boulder’s uneven surface. Cold wind pulled at their clothes. ‘It had a face! And a torso and a tail. I’m sure of it!’

‘No, Ham. You were drunk! Like me and the others.’

‘I know what I saw!’

‘You didn’t see anything!’ Pete roared, stabbing the hand holding a beer at his friend.

‘So, what? It’s better we killed a man, then? Is that it?’

‘He should have known better than to go swimming at night!’

‘No. We should have known better than to go shark hunting at night.’

‘Shut up!’ Peter shoved Ham, sending him into the waves. Pete blinked when icy water hit him in the face. He hadn’t realized how hard the waves beat against the rock. If he didn’t hurry, his best friend would be pulverized.

‘Grab my hand! Ham, I’m sorry! I-I don’t know what—‘

‘Pete! Help me! Oh my—!’

Ham was gone. Not because of the waves crushing him against the rocks. Not because the current was too strong.

It was something else.

Pete rubbed his eyes and looked again. The sea was angry. One sacrifice wasn’t enough. He shook his head, hardly believing that Ham’s far-out stories suddenly made sense. What sea creatures were in those books again? Leviathans? Sea serpents? Mermaids?

He almost laughed. Mermaids weren’t dangerous. They sang and swam with schools of fish. Isn’t that how they were portrayed in movies and cartoons?

But Ham needed help. Pete wouldn’t leave him, not after the last time when they had injured that man and left him to die.

Pete scrambled down the side of the boulder, managing to hold onto a crag with one hand while lodging his feet into shallow holds. ‘Ham!’ he shouted over the roar of the waves. The spray hit him in the face again, stinging his eyes and skin like venom. ‘Ham!’

The waters surged and parted. Relief flooded through Pete. ‘Thank God! I thought—‘

Knobbly hands shot out of the waves, latching onto his jacket. A horrid, grey face twisted with rage lunged towards him. A ferocious tug tore his fingers from the rock. Water closed over his head.

There was no time to scream. No time for one last breath.
Bubbles sounded at his ears.

The moon drew further and further away.

***

She dragged her prey into her domain where it was cold and dark. A minute or two more and the man would stop struggling, just as the other had. Soon, vengeance would feed on his dying breath. Soon, she would be complete.

The bubbles stopped only her pain did not.

Two sacrifices were not enough.

Triton’s daughter smiled. Her father was with her. He understood her pain.
Eager and hungry, she let the dead man go.

Triton’s spirit buoyed her as she broke the water’s surface.
And all the ocean rejoiced with her as its Daughter returned to the land of men to feed.

Copyright@ 2013 by Dyane Forde

Stories

Easy Chair: My Latest Story Published by Stories with Pictures

Alice Cuninghame, a writing coach, copywriter and fiction writer from Brighton, UK, started Stories with Pictures to match writers with artists in order to create artistic collaborations and then publish them online. I was extremely happy to have been paired with photographer Fleur Alston, who supplied the picture which inspired Easy Chair, a 500 word flash fiction piece. You can find Fleur’s work at http://fleuralston.wordpress.com/ and http://fleuralston.wix.com/fleur-alston-photography

I invite you to follow the link below to see our *finished product. 🙂 http://www.storieswithpictures.org/easy-chair/

 

info@storieswithpictures.org

*I’m sorry to announce that the e-magazine is no longer available.